What’s Up With That Cat Stare? Here’s What Your Cat Is Trying to Tell You

Like human eye contact, feline eye contact is also a form of communication. If you’ve noticed your cat staring, you will likely wonder, ‘Why does my cat stare at me?’. It’s normal for a cat owner to be worried about whether a cat stare is a sign of feline aggression. Still, this intense eye contact is a cat’s way of showing affection.

Cat staring at you while sitting outside on brick post

owever, this intense eye contact is often a cat’s way of showing affection and bonding with you. By understanding your cat’s non-verbal cues, you can strengthen your bond and provide them with the emotional support they need. 

What are the reasons for a cat staring?

If your cat seems to always be watching, take pride in knowing you are an exceptional human. Cats tend to limit eye contact with people that they don’t like but will stare intently at someone they’re more comfortable around.
A cat’s stare can feel intense because it can keep staring for a very long time because of how its eyes work. They have a third eyelid, a nictitating membrane, which moves diagonally over the eye.

The third eyelid is very thin, almost invisible, and quickly moves over the eye. This third eyelid cleans and moistens the eye, so the cat doesn’t need to use their main eyelids often. As a result, they can keep staring for what can seem like forever.

Sometimes, a cat’s stare could indicate a health problem. For example, your cat might be staring if it’s losing its eyesight. However, you’ll probably notice accompanying signs like your cat bumping into things when walking.

Also, pay attention to the direction your kitty is looking in. If they’re looking at you, it’s relatively safe to assume they’re trying to get your attention. Still, if they’re staring into space, there may be a cause for concern, especially if you struggle to get your cat’s attention. If there are no other signs of ill health, your cat’s stare is simply a way to show that you’re one of their favorite people.

How can you decipher cat behavior?

While a cat’s stare is almost always affectionate, different staring behaviors can have a different meanings. Therefore, the question, ‘Why does my cat stare at me?’ can only be answered with more context.

If a cat’s stare is narrow rather than wide-eyed, this could be a sign of aggression or fear rather than a positive signal. Also, notice the shape of the eyes and pupils, which will narrow if a cat feels on edge.

Ragdoll Cat Charlie Seal Mitted with a Blaze sitting on the deck

You can read your cat’s body language by taking environmental cues. For example, if your kitty is staring as they sit by its food bowl, they’re probably hoping that staring into your soul will show you that it’s ready for food.

Cats that stare when not near their food bowl usually demonstrate trust. This can be accompanied by a slow blink or eyelids being half-closed. A slow blink is cat-speak for ‘I love you.’ You can respond to your cat’s affection by slow-blinking back.

What is your cat’s body language telling you?

Only if your cat or kitten feels safe around you will they watch you with an unbroken stare and wide, relaxed eyes. A cat’s pupil will grow wider as they’re excited, although a dilated pupil with a stare could also be a sign of fear.

Your cat’s eyes are essential to help you work out how they’re feeling. Still, you may need to look at the bigger picture to understand what’s happening, including body language and the tone of their meowing.

Relaxed and Happy

A relaxed, happy cat will have body language that’s very open and soft. Its body will be gently curved rather than tense and arched.

A relaxed cat might be sitting still or lying down, with a very open posture that allows you access to its tummy. Your kitty might not like to be tickled on its stomach, but leaving this part of its body on display will show that they feel relaxed and trusting. On the other hand, a cat’s tummy is a vulnerable spot so it won’t have it on display freely.

Trigg Chiggy Blue Lynx Mitted Ragdoll cat outside on grass

When your cat is happy, their tail will likely stick straight up toward the sky. The tail might also have a slight curve or hook.

Agitated or Annoyed

An agitated cat will swish its tail quite quickly from side to side, moving almost like a whip; the tail is a sign that a cat’s had enough of your game. Think of a swishing tail as a precursor to some more aggressive behavior. If you ignore the swishing tail, you will likely be met with hissing and claws very soon.

An agitated cat might also be narrowing its eyes. It might be watching you closely, but the facial expression is not relaxed.

Angry and Aggressive

An angry cat, past agitated, might fluff up to look bigger than usual. Its fur will stand on end and might arch its back while staring. Its claws might come out, and they may be hissing, with its ears twisting around so that they seem back-to-front or flat against the head.

At this stage, if you missed earlier signs, such as your cat staring at you in a way that didn’t seem friendly, then it’s obvious that your cat is unhappy with your presence, and you should give them space.

Nervous or Fearful

Nervous cats will hide or tuck away their tails and press their ears back against their head. They’re also likely to look around in all directions or have narrowed eyes with dilated pupils to show that they’re alert and fearful.

cat staring sitting on carpet

Nervous cats look very different from cats that are feeling aggressive because they’re trying to shrink away and make themselves look as small as possible. These cats are in ‘flight’ mode rather than ‘fight,’ so instead of trying to clear their anger, they’ll be looking for the quickest escape route.

Why does my cat stare at me?

If your cat’s body language seems relaxed and happy, think of the stare as a positive form of non-verbal communication. Though your feline friend cannot speak your language, the cat stare is a form of affection that can transcend your communication differences.

If your cat’s staring seems aimed at nothing in particular, this could be a sign of a health issue. On the other hand, if your pet is staring with dilated pupils, they’re more likely showing you that they’re uncomfortable.

Does your cat stare at you a lot? Comment below if you’ve tried slow blinking back to show your cat how much you love them.

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Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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6 Comments

  1. Jeanne Rasmussen says:

    Hi Jenny,
    I love the way my cats stare. My DSH Tortie does a “blinky, blinky, stare. My Blue Eyed White Ragdoll does a slit eyed stare, occasionally with a blink. Both know when I am going to photograph them and they turn away from the camera.

  2. LURVE THIS SUPER PAWESOME & FABULOUS POST SOOOO VERY MUCH, Jenny honey! Just a fascinating behavior…The Cat Stare. Miss PSB stares at us all the time and we do the slow blink back to her when we catch her looking at us and she will actually slow blink right back! Make us feel like a SQUILLION BUCKS to know she lurves US as much as we lurve HER!!! 🙂 <3

    TYSVM for all this great info, hon. Very well done!!! 🙂 <3

    Big hugs & lots of love & purrs!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3 <3 <3

    1. =) oh patti…”a SQUILLION BUCKS” – ha ha ha!

      1. Anonymous says:

        Amazing! My cat stares at me frequently, and she blinks frequently – I blink back and wondered if it was a form of communication. Thank you. Love my 2 Ragdolls.

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